Scholarly Communication

Reflections on the Digital Preservation Handbook Book Sprint 28-29 October 2014

What a terrific couple of days! We completed a two day book sprint in London last week focussing on developing new content for the first release of the next edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook that is being funded by The National Archives, the British Library, and Jisc. Really pleased with the outputs and progress we made.

A group of 11 people Matthew Addis (Arkivum), Neil Beagrie (Charles Beagrie Ltd), Stephanie Davidson (West Yorkshire Archive Service), Michael Day (British Library), Matt Faber (Jisc), Chris Fryer (Parliamentary Archives), Anna Henry (the Tate Gallery), William Kilbride (DPC), Ed Pinsent (ULCC), Virginia Power (Jisc), Susan Thomas (Bodleian Library Oxford), met up over two days to progress sections of the content for the new “Technical Solutions and Tools” chapter of the Handbook (as identified in the Draft Outline of the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook). Accommodation for the sprint was kindly provided by the Jisc in their central London offices via the good offices of Neil Grindley.

We have completed draft sections for:

  • Tools (including guidance on Tool Registries)
  • Media and Storage
  • File Formats
  • Digital Forensics

In addition a content outline was agreed for the “Getting Started” sub-section of the Introduction.  Alongside this work, other sections including the Background, How to Use the Handbook, Definitions and Concepts, Acronyms and Initials, and References have been partially revised as we went.

The revision has been guided by the user feedback and consultation (see Report on the Preparatory User Consultation on the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook) in short to keep the Handbook text practical, concise, and accessible with more detail available in the case studies and further reading.

This was the first book sprint for all bar one of the participants. We learnt a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of “Booktype” the open source software we used that had been developed to help support this type of activity, eventually settling on using it in parallel with collaborative text tools such as Google Docs to get the best from each approach. A two-day book sprint was very intense but few could have spared more time away from the workplace, and as one participant said a tight-deadline helped everyone focus on the tasks in hand.

At the end of the sprint the challenge was set to aim to make the new content available within 3 months – we hope sufficient additional sections to create a ready critical mass, potentially the complete Tools and Solutions Chapter of the Handbook can be readied and transferred to the DPC website and reviewed for release in the New Year.

1st book sprint for Digital Preservation Handbook next week

I’m starting to really look forward to the book sprint for the Digital Preservation Handbook next week.

Final preparations are now in place and we are ready to go. 11 people are contributing over a two-day sprint that will focus on developing new content in key areas such as “Technical Solutions and Tools” and “Getting Started”. The aim is to address some of the new areas identified in the recent audience survey and new content outline.

This will be the first “book sprint” I have been involved in as a facilitator (or participant) so that anticipation is mixed with a bit of nervousness. However there is a great bunch of people involved so we should be productive. Expect a blog post late next week reporting on how it went.

Digital Preservation Technology Watch Reports pass 72,000 Downloads

Last month the new series of Digital Preservation Coalition Technology Watch Reports passed the 72,000 downloads mark: these are downloads by real users excluding robots etc.

The new series was launched publicly in February 2012 with Preserving Email by Chris Prom and there are now 8 titles published since that date. All have proved very popular: Preserving Email still heads the group with over 20,000 downloads (but has been available for longest), followed by Preserving Moving Picture and Sound with over 12,000, and Digital Forensics and Preservation with over 11,000.

The new series was chosen by the Library of Congress as one of its Top 10 Digital Preservation Developments of 2012.

The reports are published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as editors and Neil Beagrie as Principal Investigator and managing editor of the series. The series is intended as an advanced introduction to specific issues for those charged with establishing or running services for long term access.  They identify and track developments in IT, standards and tools which are critical to digital preservation activities. All are released as peer-reviewed open-access publications after a preview period of exclusive access to DPC members.

The DPC Technology Watch Report Series publications are freely available online from the DPC website at: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/technology-watch-reports

Trending: The Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation

A colleague has pointed out that our synthesis report for Jisc on the Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation has had over 3,900 downloads since April 2014. You can see the stats and access the report here on the Jisc Repository.

It is great to see that there is a very high level of interest in the topic and report. I’m not sure how that figure compares, but if you have done work for Jisc you should now be able to search or browse the Jisc repository and see the download stats for your own work. Potentially, access to the Jisc repository stats is going to be very useful for those involved in REF or needing to demonstrate their  impact to their institutions and other stakeholders.

Public release of new ‘Preserving eBooks’ Technology Watch Report

We are pleased to announce the publication of Preserving eBooks, the latest in the series of Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) Technology Watch Reports. Written by Portico’s Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey, and published in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as managing editors, the report discusses the current developments and issues with which public, national and higher education libraries, publishers, aggregators and preservation institutions must contend to ensure long-term access to eBook content.

Archive Services Product Manager for Portico in the USA, Amy explains that “an increasingly ‘digital native’ population with new expectations such as efficient automated search, retrieval and re-use of information, as well as cost pressures on the production and storage of new publications, have made the eBook as a mode of publication a fact on the ground for the foreseeable future.”

With this in mind, the report examines legal questions about the use, re-use, sharing and preservation of eBook objects; format issues, including the sometimes tight coupling of eBook content with particular hardware platforms; the embedding of digital rights management artefacts in eBook files to restrict access to them; and the diverse business ecosystem of eBook publication, with its associated complexities of communities of use and, ultimately, expectations for preservation.

Sheila adds that “while large-scale digitization of print books has created valuable and widely used digital surrogates for those books that are being put to uses impossible with print books, it has also introduced certain quality assurances issues, and has also embroiled institutions in legal entanglements arising from both the eBook’s similarity to, and difference from, its print source.”

Collections Management Officer at the University of North Carolina, Luke Swindler, admires the way the report “sketches the salient issues at levels and in terms that its varied audiences can understand,” and goes on to observe that “a major strength of the report is the recognition of and close attention to the coupling of e-book content with its corresponding software (including intellectual property and digital rights management restrictions) and the hardware/platform envelope.”

While Preserving eBooks will be well received by libraries, scholars and publishers, the report also includes generic lessons in this field of interest for the wider digital preservation community, covering relevant legal, economic and service issues.

You can read Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey’s report Preserving eBooks by downloading it from the DPC website here.

What is the Impact of Research Data in the Arts and Humanities?

The AHRC periodically commissions case studies to investigate the impact and value of AHRC-funded research. Across the series as a whole, impact has been defined in its broadest sense to include, economic, social, and cultural elements. The latest AHRC case study, Safeguarding our heritage for the future, focuses on the impact of data sharing and curation through the Archaeology Data Service.

It cites some of the Jisc-funded “The Value and Impact of the Archaeology Data Service: A study and methods for enhancing sustainability” study by ourselves and John Houghton.

There is the headline research efficiency impact message on page 1 and the relevant detail on page 2 of the case study as follows:

“JISC commissioned research carried out in 2012 found that the ADS has a broad user group which goes well beyond academia: whilst 38% of users are conducting academic research, 19% use ADS for private research;17% for general interest enquiries; 11% are Heritage Management users and 8% are commercial users; 6% use it to support teaching and learning activities; and 1% use it for family history research. The ADS is respected as an invaluable resource, saving users time and therefore money, and providing security for those who use the service to deposit their data. A significant increase in research efficiency was reported by users as a result of using the ADS, worth at least £13 million per annum – five times the costs of operation, data deposit and use. A potential increase in return on investment resulting from the additional use facilitated by ADS may be worth between £2.4 million and £9.7 million over thirty years in net present value from one-year’s investment – a 2-fold to 8-fold return on investment.”

The pdf version of the Safeguarding our heritage for the future case study  is available for download on the AHRC website.

AHRC Case Study

 

 

Science, Publishers and Libraries – The Future of the Article?

Last month I attended an excellent Academic Publishing in Europe 2014 conference in Berlin on the theme of “Redefining the Scientific Record: The Future of the Article, Big Data & Metrics” . Also notable was the inclusion for the first time at the conference, of a full session devoted to preservation of e-journals and the scientific record.

The preservation session on Permanent Access to the Record of Science was organised by Marcel Ras (Netherlands Coalition for Digital Preservation – NCDD) and the KB (the Dutch National Library). The Powerpoint presentations are now available with a blog post on the conference on the NCDD site. The presentations are overviews of the state of the art  and present the problem from the perspectives of different stakeholders:

The problem.  An introduction to Preservation, Trust and Continuing Access for e-Journals – from me – expanding on my recent DPC Tech Watch devoted to e-Journals

Ensuring access to the record of science: driving changes in the role of research libraries  – from Susan Reilly (LIBER)

The Publisher. Remaining Future-proof: Publishers and Digital Preservation – from Eefke Smit (STM Publishers)

The Archivist. Ensuring the Scholarly Record is kept safe: measured Progress with Serials – from Peter Burnhill (EDINA)

If you are interested in the other themes of the conference such as data publishing (I was!), a selection of the discussions were also video recorded and are available online here.

New Study Shows Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age

A Nature news item “Scientists losing data at a rapid rate“ reports and provides a valuable commentary on, a research article by Timothy Vines et al published today in Current Biology that looked at the availability of research data for Ecology articles over 2-22 years.

The researchers had requested data sets from a relatively homogenous set of 516 Ecology articles published between 2 and 22 years ago, and found that availability of the underlying data was strongly affected by article age. For papers where the authors gave the status of their data, the odds of a data set being extant fell by 17% per year over that period. Availability dropped to as little as 20% for research data from the early 1990s. In addition, the odds that they could find a working e-mail address for the first, last, or corresponding author fell by 7% per year.

Although solely focussed on Ecology, this is an interesting addition to a growing body of research on data sharing and availability, and to the case for archiving initiatives such as Dryad, Figshare, and institutional data repositories when no international or disciplinary archive exists.

Measuring the Value and Impact of Research Data Curation and Sharing

My colleague John Houghton gave an excellent 20 minute Presentation at the October 2013 Open Access Research Conference in Brisbane on recent studies conducted by Charles Beagrie Ltd and Victoria University covering the value and impact of sharing research data via three UK research data centres. I highly recommend it as an accessible, concise, overview. The video of the presentation is now available at https://vimeo.com/82043019

It summarises recent studies exploring the impact and value of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). The aim of the studies was to both assess the costs, benefits, value and impacts of the data centres, and to test a range of economic methods in order to ascertain which methods might work across three very different fields, with very different data production and use practices, and very different user communities. The presentation focuses on the methods used and lessons learned, as well as the headline findings.

As blogged previously the three reports for the ESDS, ADS, and BADC are all available now as individual open-access publications. A short synthesis of all three reports is being published by Jisc in the New Year.

The Value and Impact of The Archaeology Data Service: findings released on research data sharing and curation

Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd and Professor John Houghton of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) are pleased to announce the release of their final report from the Jisc study which examined the value and impact of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). The aim of this study is to explore and attempt to measure the value and impact of the ADS. A range of economic approaches were used to analyses data gathered through online surveys, and user and depositor statistics, to supplement and extend other non-economic perceptions of value.

The study reveals the benefits of integrating qualitative approaches exploring user perceptions and non-economic dimensions of value with quantitative economic approaches to measuring the value and impacts of research data services. Such a mix of methods is important in capturing and presenting the full range and dimensions of value. The approaches are complementary and mutually reinforcing, with stakeholder perceptions matching the economic findings. For example, both qualitative and quantitative analysis highlights the important contribution of ADS data and services to research efficiency.

The study has changed stakeholder perceptions, increasing recognition of the value of the ADS and digital archiving and data sharing generally. Most stakeholders already valued ADS highly, but felt the study had extended their understanding of the scope of that value, and the degree of its value to other stakeholders. They were positive about seeing value expressed in economic terms, as this was something they had not previously considered or seen presented,

The report is available for download as a PDF file at: http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/5509/1/ADSReport_final.pdf

This report forms part of a series of independent studies produced by the authors on the value and impact of three UK research data centres. The other data centres already reported upon are the Economic and Social Research Data Service (ESDS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). To summarise and facilitate dissemination of the key findings from all three data centre studies a separate synthesis is currently being prepared by Jisc.

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